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Frank Sinatra Jr. Takes Stand in Kidnapping Trial

Feb. 14, 1964 - Showing angry emotion and flippancy by turn, Frank Sinatra Jr. (pictured with attorney Milton Rudin) today endured nearly five hours of cross-examination by defense attorneys trying to prove his Dec. 8 kidnapping was a publicity hoax. The young singer’s voice broke with emotion as he denied the charge by Gladys Root, of defense counsel, that he had arranged his own “little kidnap plot.” The exchange came as Mrs. Root, attorney for John Irwin, 42, one of the alleged kidnappers, asked the 20-year-old son of the famous entertainer why he had not tried to attract the attention of policemen at a roadblock after the abduction.

“I didn’t want it on my conscience, Mrs. Root, to make a sudden or idiotic move on my part because I was afraid this man, who was already stupid enough to kidnap me, might blow the brains out of an innocent policeman.”

“The truth is, you would have wrecked your little kidnap plot, which you arranged, and it would not have been successful,” declared the lawyer.

“That is not true,” shot back Sinatra.

Earlier, under questioning by Charles Crouch, counsel for 23-year-old defendant Barry Keenan, Sinatra admitted that he said of one of the policemen who stopped the kidnap car at a roadblock: “That SOB — who the hell does he think he is?” Crouch then asked: “Did you make the statement: ‘Cops like that bug me. If I had the power, I’d take care of him’?”

“I wasn’t referring to that specific policeman. I said something to that effect, perhaps. That’s all,” replied Sinatra.

In his second day on the witness stand before a Los Angeles Federal Court jury, Sinatra was questioned in relays by the attorneys for Keenan, Irwin, and Joseph Amsler, 23, the third man accused of kidnapping him from a Lake Tahoe resort and holding him for $240,000 ransom. Most of the money was recovered.

Sinatra admitted that at one point he told his abductors, “You won’t believe me, but I hope you guys get away with it.” He admitted, also, that he had told the kidnappers they had to keep a grip on themselves, and replied “That’s correct” when asked if he told the men: “You guys don’t have to worry about me. I’ll help you in every way possible.”

As the day wore on, the young singer lost his nervousness. After one long pause, he quipped to a defense attorney, in an obvious reference to the late movie director Cecil B. DeMille: “Any time you’re ready, C.B.”


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